by Bruce Strand, Arts Editor
Once again this summer, residents of Elk River and the surrounding area were treated to free entertainment downtown on Thursday evenings: the Riverfront Concert Series, which ended this week.
“Ladies of the 80’s,” a new entry in the concert series, closed the seventh season this week with Madonna, Cindi Lauper and other icons depicted.
Top draws this summer were a pair of old favorites with the RCS crowd — Rockin Hollywoods, a 50’s and 60’s tribute band, on August 1, and Chris Olson, with Memories of Elvis, on July 25. Each drew an estimated 1,500 fans. Ladies of the 80’s drew about 1,200 and another 50’s-60’s band, Whitesidewalls, drew about 1,100 on June 27.
Total attendance for 10 concerts this summer was about 9,700. Figures were provided by Steve Benoit of Parks and Recreation, which organizes the concert series. The city co-sponsors with The Bank of Elk River.
“These concerts have been awesome for the city,” said Mayor John Dietz. “We get more positive comments about this than almost anything else. There are a lot of people who attend every week no matter who is playing. You see all ages. There’s a lot of people from out of town. This summer, I think we got more people than ever.”
The Bank of Elk River received a plaque prior to Thursday’s concert, presented by the mayor.
The concert schedule was shortened from 12 to 10 this year. Dietz praised Michael Hecker of Parks and Rec for assembling a high quality lineup for those 10 dates.
Also entertaining here this summer were Arch Allies (tribute to Journey, REO, Styx), The Jimmy’s (Chicago blues, New Orleans funk), Deuces Wild! (dueling pianos), Rubber Soul (Beatles tribute), Bend in the River (big band), and Killer Hayseeds (country).
Weather cooperated nicely except for one concert moved to Elk River Arena due to threat of rain June 20. That was Deuces Wild!, which, ironically, was the only one moved inside last summer, too. They still drew a nice crowd despite the displacement.
The Riverfront Concert Series began in 2007, after River’s Edge Commons was built where downtown meets a bend in the Mississippi, at a site previously occupied by a hardware store that burned down.